Robotic Child Therapists?

Robots are taking on lots of human jobs, or at least lots of human work tasks if not the entire job. The latest example comes out of a Cambridge University study that used robots to hold initial interviews with children though to have mental health issues.

The robots worked through an initial interview with the kids, asking them about their moods and experiences over the preceding week. The children had a similar interview with a human, with their parents present. Researchers found that kids spoke more frankly with the robot than with the human interviewer, sometimes providing information that they had not shared in interviews with human counselors.

Lower stakes

Counselors working with kids often use puppets as part of their communication with kids. Children are likely to be more cautious in talking with adults. They may worry that they will get in trouble or that there will be negative consequences for their families if they tell a secret or even express unhappiness. Toys are nonthreatening.

The children’s parents were observing the interaction from another room.

The robot used in the study was Nao, a small humanoid robot from SoftBank. Nap is two feet tall, and looks a lot like Pepper, SoftBank’s larger social robot. Nap has two cameras and lots of points of articulation. It has multiple touch sensors and four directional microphones. It can function in 20 languages. It has been widely used in classroom situation and costs about $13,000.

This makes Nao a practical tool for counseling centers, even if it’s a bit more complicated than using a puppet.

Motion Control

Robots like Nao require awesome motion control. Though Nao doesn’t use Indramat drive and control systems, hundreds of factories, printers, and other industrial facilities do. When you need service or support for Indramat systems, call on us. We’re Indramat specialists, with the skills and knowledge you need to keep your facility running well.